Analysis Of Dying To Win By Robert Pape

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In Dying to Win, Robert Pape explains the causal logic of suicide terrorism and why the phenomenon has become more frequent since its inception in the 1980’s. This is accomplished through dividing the logic into three categories: strategic, social, and individual. Throughout this explanation Pape argues that suicide campaigns are not primarily derived from religious fundamentalism, but nationalism. This would indicate that such tactics are also a form of insurgency. To assess the overall argument, other scholar’s works on terrorist strategy will be used along with examples of conventional insurgencies. Pape’s argument is divided into three categories or areas that shows suicide terrorism to be a logical choice for certain terrorist …show more content…
As previously discussed, Pape asserts that it is nationalism that drives suicide attacks. It is through nationalism that terrorist organizations appeal to the wider community to accept and support an act that is usually considered unacceptable within a majority of societies. This is done through labeling the occupiers not only as ‘other’, but more importantly as a threat that will “lead to radical and permanent transformation” (Pape, 86). To achieve this, a key difference between the general population and the occupier must be accentuated. Most factors, such as language, are not a salient conduit to create this threat because they are not zero-sum, as individuals can learn more than one language. Therefore, religion provides the means to show how the military occupation is a threat to the community’s identity (Pape, 88). This argument emphasizes that religion plays a factor in suicide campaigns, but not directly. It is used as a tool to incite extreme nationalist sentiment. Such an assertion refutes Hoffman’s claim that the number of religious groups increased at the same time “nationalist/separatist terrorist groups declined appreciably” (2006, 85). In suicide terrorist cases, which had grown during the time of Hoffman’s assessment, the two factors are difficult to separate. Groups that are secular can even appeal to such means as shown in Sri Lanka, where there is extreme devotion to the …show more content…
For some insurgencies, terrorism is held in disdain as the goal is to win the hearts and minds of the population rather than disrupt their everyday lives. Furthermore, these movements are severely lacking in resources and implement tactics that try to minimize their own casualties. This is prominent in Che Guevara’s concept of guerilla warfare when he states that terrorism is, “of negative value, that it by no means produces the desired effects” (2013, 35). In Pape’s argument though, specific requirements are laid out that provide an environment that increases the possibility of suicide terrorism within an insurgency. First, the target of suicide attacks are democracies because they are perceived to be “especially vulnerable to coercive punishment” (Pape, 44). Second, suicide terrorism is portrayed as a last resort against democracies because if the original guerilla tactics are successful, “then the local community has no reason to resort to more extreme measures” (Pape, 93). The tactics of Mao and Guevara were successful in each of their own respective insurgent campaigns, and have also proved to be useful elsewhere. Therefore, there was no reason to escalate the asymmetrical violence

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